Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

With their Concacaf Olympic qualifying chapter now closed, as they failed to rewrite the history books, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz and coaching staff will not only have to pick up the pieces, but also come up with new ideas to ensure the programme's continued progress, as they now shift focus to the Gold Cup qualifying campaign.

The Girlz, who were seeking to become the first Caribbean nation to qualify for women's football at the Olympic Games, suffered a 1-4 aggregate defeat to reigning Olympic champions Canada after 0-2 and 1-2 losses across the two-leg home-and-away playoff.

Those victories ensured Canada the second automatic spot for both the Olympic Games and Gold Cup respectively, joining United States, who were already qualified by virtue of topping last year's Concacaf Women’s Championships in Mexico. 

For the Girlz it is back to the proverbial drawing board with much to contemplate, as their defence, particularly on the left, and midfield in the playoff fixtures, were a shadow of what it was when they held Brazil and France to goalless stalemates at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia.

While they are expecting the Girlz to bounce back against Panama and Guatemala next month, assistant coach Xavier Gilbert says it is hard for the coaching staff to really think too far ahead, as uncertainty surrounds the renewal of their contracts which expire on Saturday. 

"It's difficult to say what our plans are going forward. Our contract ends on the 30th of September, and we are yet to hear anything from the Jamaica Football Federation, so we don't know what will happen after this. We don't know if we will be the staff in charge of the unit, but it's still a good unit and I think they are going to do well against those opposition next month regardless," Gilbert told SportsMax.tv.

Reflecting on the performances against Canada, Gilbert, though admitting their shortcomings in certain areas, credited the Girlz for the fight shown, particularly in Tuesday's second-leg at a sold-out BMO Field in Toronto. 

"I think the performance wasn't bad. We wanted to score at least one before the half-time break and we got that go-ahead goal. Unfortunately, we conceded, and I think that set us back again, but it was a good effort, and it just goes to show how much we are growing in the region and on the world stage.

"So, I have to give the Girlz credit, they held their own in a hostile environment…yes, there were some lapses in concentration and there was an overload on the left side again and when you make certain errors you pay the price, especially against quality opposition and that's what happened last night," Gilbert reasoned.

"I don't think the issue is only at the left back because we know what they (Canada) were doing and we should have prevented that. The Canadian team did well the way they pulled our left back out and exploited the spaces behind. But we have to give more help and support in in that area and then we also have to be a little bit more positive on that side too, so that we can push the overlap and get forward more often," he added.

On that note, Gilbert revealed that the players accepted responsibility for the lukewarm performance and, by extension, not being able to give the country something more to celebrate.

“They are disappointed because they really wanted to make the country proud. Some of them even broke down in tears after the game, but we just have to pick ourselves up and go again,” Gilbert shared.

He continued: “Like I said, we did well in terms of where we are on the world stage right now because playing against Canada, everybody would have expected at least 4-0, as those are the defeats that we used to get against these oppositions. So I believe we are now closing the gap and things are changing and those are the positives that we have to take from this.

“We are getting closer and closer because again, no one would have thought, even years gone by and probably even now, that we would have been so competitive against Canada, who are the defending Olympic champions, so let’s not forget that.”

Finally, Gilbert pointed out that should the Lorne Donaldson-led remain in charge of the programme, they will be aiming to add more players to the pool, to not only remedy their defensive and midfield concerns, but also to ensure continuity.

“For sure, we want to continue on the same path widen the pool of players, especially in certain areas that we think we need it and continue to give other players opportunities so that we can have a wider pool to select from and make it more competitive in every position,” he ended.

Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz battled bravely, but were unable to deny Canada, who registered a 2-1 scoreline in second-leg action of the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying playoff, on their return home at a sold-out BMO Field in Toronto, on Tuesday.

Unlike the first leg at Jamaica’s National Stadium where they were easy 2-0 winners, Canada, the reigning Olympic champions, came from behind on this occasion, to wrap up a 4-1 aggregate win and join United States as the confederation’s representatives in next year’s Paris Games.

Cloe Lacasse (39th) and substitute Jordyn Huitema (50th), did the damage for Bev Priestman’s side, after Drew Spence’s 33rd-minute strike offered Lorne Donaldson and his Reggae Girlz a glimmer of hope.

While Canada, by virtue of the win, also confirmed the second automatic spot in the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, the Jamaicans will have to quickly regain their confidence for meetings with Panama and Guatemala next month, which represents their opportunity to secure Gold Cup qualification.

Tuesday’s task for was always expected to be a difficult one for the Reggae Girlz, as Canada, playing at home for the first time in over a year, were brimming with confidence on the back of a two-goal advantage from the first leg.

Though Donaldson ringed in the changes, five to be exact, with talismanic striker Khadija "Bunny" Shaw and Jody Brown, out with injuries, it meant little to the Canadians, who went about business in a no-nonsense manner.

They required only two minutes to fire the first warning shot, as Adriana Leon unleashed from just outside the 18-yard box, but the effort was swallowed up by Rebecca Spencer, who produced another workmanlike performance in goal for Jamaica.

As Canada continued to show enterprise and mounted early pressure, the Reggae Girlz held their own defensively, as they ensured the opponent’s hunt for goals turned out fruitless at that point.

In fact, the Jamaicans were not without hope on the attacking front, and it was one of their occasional push forward that resulted in the opening goal.

Atlanta Primus’s initial effort from a distance was handled at the top of the arc by a defender and it was left for Spence to step up and convert a delightful free kick beating Kailen Sheridan diving full stretch to her right.

Canada launched a series of attacks in their probe for the equalizer and almost pulled level in the 35th, as a corner kick taken by Leon was headed on by Deneisha Blackwood. Fortunately for the Jamaican left-back, the crossbar was in the way.

The host again went close when Ashley Lawrence drove a stinging right-footer from a distance that Spencer tipped unto the crossbar and Primus, who dropped back to assist with defending, forced the ball out for a corner.

Leon served up a perfectly weighted delivery from the resulting corner and Lacasse rose above her markers to head home from close range to make it 1-1 heading into the break.

Though the Reggae Girlz were chasing the game, the manner in which they came out on the resumption said otherwise.

As such, their hopes of mounting a comeback were dented five minutes in, when Blackwood’s unforced error, allowed Lawrence to float a cross in for unmarked substitute Huitema to nod home.

Canada should have added another in the 62nd as another defensive error by captain Allyson Swaby, allowed another substitute, Christine Sinclair through on goal, but the legendary striker failed to add to her 190-goal tally, as her effort went straight at Spencer.

In the 72nd, Sinclair again found space in the 18-yard box for a right-footer that went just wide of the left upright.

The Girlz tried to play their game but were unable to cause any real problems in the attacking third. Instead, it was Canada, who asserted authority in the latter stages, and it took another big save from Spencer, who left her line well, to deny 19-year-old substitute Olivia Smith in time added.

November 30, 2022 is forever etched in Anya Pilgrim's mind. It is one of the scariest days of her life and a day when all her fears and thoughts will always weigh heavily on her heart.

On that fateful day, Pilgrim, while preparing to represent University of Florida in Artistic Gymnastics, suffered a freak accident, which derailed her career progress, as she took her time to recover.

Now almost one year on, the American-born Pilgrim, who represents Barbados, has not only grown stronger, but is also one who takes her life and sport seriously, as her unwavering commitment to fulfilling a passion she always dreamed of, is clear for all to see.

"This past season had some ups and downs. At the beginning of the season after signing to the University of Florida, I had fell and landed on my neck and was out of the gym for about six weeks and had to recover from a concussion. It was not an easy road. I had to overcome my fears of injury to be able to even step back into the sport," Pilgrim told SportsMax.tv.

"Luckily I did, and only a week after I started training again, I decided to compete at my next competition where I achieved my personal best score of a 9.95 on the vault. So, these highs and lows have taught me that I am strong enough and more than capable of rise above any circumstances and come out successful," she added.

Pilgrim, who previously represented the United States national team in 2019, qualified to represent Barbados through her grandparents, who not only instilled life lessons to assist in her craft, but continues to inspire her path toward a fulfilling career.

"Both of my grandparents were athletes and represented Barbados in their respective sports, so I always looked up to them since they were high level athletes and wanted to follow in their footsteps, which I am now proudly doing," Pilgrim shared.

The 18-year-old, who earned a silver medal in the all-around competition at the United States National championships, along with a top five finish at the Nastia Liukin Cup, first donned the Barbados colours at PanAm championships in Colombia and from there, her appetite for more competition with the Caribbean Island became insatiable.

"It was also the first time Barbados was able to have a team at an event in gymnastics. I loved the experience and competing with my teammates. I was overall pleased with my performance, even though I had a mistake on one of the apparatuses, but considering I went to the competition right after Nationals, I did well, as the travelling resulted in missed training sessions," she said.

Pilgrim's performance at the PanAm Championships earned her an alternate for the World Gymnastics Championships in Budapest, and as fate would have, one of the qualified athletes has declined their spot and that opened the door for her to join Olivia "Storm" Kelly, as Barbados representatives in Antwerp.

The championship is scheduled to begin on September 30 and end on October 8.

Pilgrim knows all too well that this call up to fill the gap represents an opportunity to not only strut her stuff on one of gymnastics biggest stage, but also to possibly qualify for the Olympic Games, she is determined to make the most of it.

In fact, Pilgrim, having taken lessons from her PanAm performance, is hoping to polish up those errors to bring more success on this occasion. 

"I am very grateful to have another opportunity to represent Barbados and am really looking forward to getting to share the experience with Olivia. We all had a great time at PanAm so I’m glad we will have another chance to not only compete together, but possibly create some history for Barbados," Pilgrim declared.

"Unlike PanAm, I am hoping to do much better with my routimes and just be present and enjoy every moment of the championships. When my mind is clear I perform at my best and I also added in a couple of different skills to help increase my scores. So, I'm really looking forward to it," she added from her base in Belgium.

While qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, remains her biggest goal and ambition, Pilgrim pointed out that just getting a chance to parade her skills at the World Championships, would suffice, if her dream doesn't come to fruition.

"Honestly, I would love to win a National Championship at the University of Florida, that is one of my biggest goals, along with being at the World Championships, which I am now. If I were to qualify for an Olympic Games, it would be icing on the cake of a fulfilling career," she ended.

While former champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and Munro College played out a 1-1 stalemate, Maggotty High helped themselves to an 8-0 win over Roger Clarke in a ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup Zone E double-header in Santa Cruz on Saturday.

Ozwayne Miller (20th, 28th) and Roshane Lewis (60th, 64th), both had a brace for Maggotty, with Robinho Barrett (17th), Jeraine Robinson (51st), Chadrick Jackson (66th) and Daniel Martin (75th), also getting in on the act, as Roger Clarke were like lambs to the slaughter in the curtain-raiser.

The much-anticipated St Elizabeth derby feature contest, though not short on entertainment, did not serve up as much goals as D’andre Hibbert (35th) of STETHS and Munro’s captain Daniel Bowen (37th), ensured their teams a share of the spoils.

Despite the draw, STETHS remain at the summit of the zone on 10 points, one ahead of BB Coke (nine points), with Munro College inching up to eight points in third. Maggotty with their first win of the season, moved up to fifth on four points.

It was one-way traffic in favour of Maggotty High in the opening encounter which was reduced to 80 minutes following a lengthy delay caused by lightning.

Barrett opened the scoring with a neat finish, beating Raquan Powell in goal for Roger Clarke, at his near post.

Poor defending by Roger Clarke then allowed Miller to double the lead, as he latched on to, and tucked away a rebound.

Miller was again on target eight minutes later when he got in behind defenders and calmly slotted a left-footed effort beyond Powell, for his second on the day and third of the season.

Though up 3-0 at the break, Maggotty High were in no mood to let up and extended their lead six minutes into the resumption when Powell left his lines but failed to clear the ball properly. Robinson, who was on hand, capitalised as he fired the loose ball into an empty net.

On the hour-mark, Lewis went on the break down the right channel where he had time and space to dart into the 18-yard box and pick a spot to fire past the hapless Powell.

Lewis then grabbed his second and his team’s sixth, as he outpaced and outmuscled a defender before firing past the slightly advanced Powell in the 64th.

Jackson added his name to the scoresheet two minutes later. He picked up a pass from Lewis inside the 18-yard box and finished with aplomb.

And Martin applied the finishing touches to the rout when her converted from the penalty spot after Donte Blake, handled ball inside the danger area.

The feature contest lived up to billing for the most parts, as both STETHS and Munro were evenly poised throughout and nullified each other at both ends of the park.

It was STETHS that drew first blood when Hibbert applied a thumping right-footed finish to a pass from Ajay Smith. That was his fourth of the season.

However, their celebrations were short-lived as Munro replied soon after Roshane Wint headed on a ball for Bowen, who executed a sublime acrobatic finish on the volley, that gave Donte Campbell, in goal for STETHS, no chance at a save.

From there, both teams created their fair share of chances, particularly in the second half, but were unable to make them count.

Saturday’s results

Merlene Ottey 0, Green Island 1

Rusea’s High 1, Frome Tech 0

Discovery Bay High 0, York Castle 10

William Knibb Memorial 3, Cedric Titus 0

Aabuthnott Gallimore 2, Ferncourt High 5

Knockalva Technical 3, Black River High 1

Mannings School 3, Grange Hill High 0

Newell High 1, Lacovia High 3

Maggotty High 8, Roger Clarke 0

STETHS 1, Munro College 1

Manchester High 6, Mt St Joseph Catholic 0

deCarteret College 8, Cross Keys 0

Central High 16, Porus High 0

Vere Tech 2, Foga Road 1

Kemps Hill 1, Garvey Maceo High 1

May Day High vs Belair High (called off due to waterlogged field)

Lennon High vs Edwin Allen (called off due to lightning)

Clarendon College vs Thompson Town (called off due to lightning)

Carron Hall High vs St Mary High (rained out)

Wycliffe Martin High vs Horace Clarke (rained out)

Ocho Rios High vs Brown’s Town (rained out)

Reigning Horse of the Year Atomica registers fourth-consecutive win

Gary Subratie’s face portrayed ease with a tad bit of excitement, as he watched the replay of a race where his highly rated filly Atomica comfortably brushed aside rivals and copped the third running of the Menudo Trophy over 10 furlongs (2,000m), at Caymanas Park on Saturday.

That delight on Subratie’s face was very much understandable given the fact that this was Atomica’s fourth-straight win, following a slight injury setback earlier this year, and the manner of this performance, underscored that the four-year-old filly is well and truly back to her best.

Running from the widest draw in the small five-horse of the three-year-olds and upward Graded Stakes/Open Allowance contest, Atomica, partnered with customary jockey Dane Dawkins got out well and settled behind Jason DaCosta’s Outbidder (Jerome Innis) entering the clubhouse turn.

In fact, Dawkins –instead of playing the cat-mouse game with his rival – bided his time with the Nuclear Wayne and Honkeytonkville progeny for most of the way and it wasn’t until the left the half-mile that he sent Atomica into the ascendancy.

While Outbidder and D Head Cornerstone (Sadiki Blake) were kicking up a storm in close quarters, Dawkins remained cool, calm and collected as he gradually released the rein on the talented filly approaching the stretch run.

Once there, it was a case of how far Atomica would win, especially with Dawkins giving her a glimpse of the left-hand stick to which she responded and went on to win by four lengths going away.

Atomica secured the lion’s share of the $1.75 million purse for owner Oakridge Farms and breeder Karl Samuda, as she stopped the clock in 2:08.2, behind splits of 24.1, 49.3, 1:13.2 and 1:40.4.

Miniature Man (Ramon Nepare), D Head Cornerstone and Outbidder, completed the frame.

Subratie, secured another win on the 10-race card courtesy of Sensational Move (Richard Henry), in the seventh race.

Former three-time champion Anthony “Baba” Nunes, also had a brace of winners in Mr Senator (Jawara Steadman) and Hoist The Mast (Tevin Foster), while Philip Feanny, saddled Gilbert, which completed Foster’s double, and I’ve Got Magic in the night pan ridden by Reyan Lewis.

Lewis, the leading rider, earlier won aboard Peter-John Parsard’s Neo Star in the day’s penultimate event.

Racing continues on Sunday with another 10-race programme.

It was another case of could have and should have for Lorne Donaldson and his senior Reggae Girlz as they were left ruing the substandard performance in a 0-2 defeat to Canada, a blow to their Olympic Games qualification hopes.

A positive start in which they kept Canada at bay gave the Reggae Girlz and the moderate spectator turnout at the National Stadium hope that they could have pulled off a big win.

But when it mattered most, they lacked accuracy in the final third, and that, coupled with amateurish defending at times, resulted in Nichelle Prince (18th) and the menacing Adriana Leon (90+3), putting Canada in the driver’s seat to secure the coveted spot to next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

While the Bev Priestman-coached reigning Olympic champions will be confident heading into Tuesday's second leg, to be played before a sold-out crowd at BMO Field in Toronto, Donaldson and his team will have to pick up the pieces and get their offensive and defensive shape right in their bid to achieve an improbable win in hostile environment.

“Canada is a team that played like 100 games together. We are a team that is coming together, and we are still searching for some combinations that we think can work. Scoring goals is very difficult. I mean, we haven’t played anybody who is a slouch, so we have to get games that are winnable games for us that we can start building and building.

“But it doesn’t come easy when you play teams like Canada, France, and Brazil among others, but hopefully we can find a way to get through this situation and start scoring some more goals,” Donaldson said in his post-game press conference.

Reflecting on the performance, Donaldson pointed out that he had nothing to be satisfied with, especially in a loss where the team’s execution fell below expectations.

The Girlz throughout the contest, had some half chances fall to Cheyna Matthews, Jody Brown, Tiffany Cameron and Konya Plummer, in the latter stages. From a defensive perspective, the score could have been much wider in Canada’s favour had it not been for some excellent work from goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.

“We had a couple of chances, and we didn’t finish them. Canada got their chance, and they finished it. For the first 50 to 60 minutes they [Canadians] were better than us moving the ball around and they did some stuff that really caught us off guard tactically. We made the adjustments but chasing a one-goal lead a lot of time you then gave up another one and that’s what happened,” Donaldson reasoned.

“There’s not a lot of satisfaction when you lose games. We weren’t as good as we should be. Maybe for first 10 or 15 minutes we got two chances that we should have done something better with.

“Canada had one and they finished it and so right there it could have been a big difference. Chasing the game is very difficult at times when you play good teams. Canada are the defending champions and I think we had forgotten that," he added.

With the situation being as it is now, Donaldson like many Reggae Girlz supporters at home and abroad, hope it will serve as added motivation for the players. 

Being more committed and focused, the tactician believes will lead to lead to a better second-leg performance, especially as they now have a very specific aim which is to not just win but win by two or more clear goals, if they are to achieve another historic feat of being the first Caribbean team to qualify for women's football at the Olympic Games.

“I think everybody should be okay and ready to go because we have to now go to Canada and change our fortunes and make something happen differently,” Donaldson declared.

Should the Girlz fail to overturn the deficit, they will next be in action against Panama and Guatemala where victories would secure their berth in next year's Concacaf Women's Gold Cup.

Jamaica...0

Canada...2

Prince (18th), Leon (90+2)

Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz dreams of an historic Olympic Games qualification is all but up in smoke, as they suffered a 0-2 defeat to Canada in their first-leg playoff encounter at the National Stadium on Friday. 

Goals from Nichelle Prince in the 18th and the menacing Adriana Leon in the 90+2 minutes was enough to lift the Bev Priestman-coached reigning Olympic champions to a crucial advantage heading into Tuesday's second leg which will be played before a sold-out crowd at BMO Field in Toronto.

For Lorne Donaldson and his Girlz it will be a case of pulling off the improbable win in a hostile environment, if they are to progress.

The Girlz started out fairly disciplined, as they were quick on the ball and did well to contain Canada in the early exchanges. 

In fact, the Girlz looked more threatening in opening play, but their first real chance in the final third came from Deneisha Blackwood’s teasing 10th-minute free kick, which had to be mopped up by the Canadian defenders. 

Such was the Girlz discipline when they gradually gained the ascendancy that Canada was hardly allowed to play their usual fluent passing game to get into the final third.

Instead, they were on the back foot and almost found themselves a goal down in the 14th minute. This, as Jody Brown was sent on the break by Atlanta Primus, but the diminutive forward’s shot was charged down by a defender. 

All the Reggae Girlz hard work was undone in the 18th when poor positioning by Blackwood allowed Ashley Lawrence to slip further down the right channel and deliver a weighted cross, which was expertly headed in by Prince, giving Rebecca Spencer no chance at a save.

Still, the Girlz fought on and again went close in the 29th courtesy of Brown, who orchestrated a tidy build up and picked out Cheyna Matthews on the left, but the run amounted to nothing.

Matthews again went on the break five minutes later, as she shook her defender and should have initially struck a left footer, but was hesitant in doing so. When she belatedly got a shot off her favoured right foot, her marker had already recovered and averted the danger.

Though the score remained unchanged at half-time, the Jamaicans seemingly failed to recover from the manner in which they ended the first half. A defensive lapse immediately on the resumption allowed Leon through on goal and it took a tidy save from Spencer to deny her.

Canada again went close from the resulting corner with Prince's effort from the top of the 18-yard box rattling the crossbar. 

By virtue of pushing a high line in their probe for the equalizer, the Girlz absorbed some amount of pressure from Canada's break, as Leon got by Konya Plummer a couple of times but found Spencer in her way.

The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper did her utmost best to keep the Girlz in the game as she was again called upon when Cloe Lacasse got away down the left channel in the 64th and struck a left-footed effort which Spencer had to parry at her near post.

The Girlz had their best chance of the second half a minute later when substitute Tiffany Cameron’s shot from a rebound went just over the crossbar, after Khadija “Bunny” Shaw's initial effort was thwarted by Vanessa Gilles. 

But just when the moderate turnout in the stadium may have harboured a glimmer of hope that the Girlz would pull one back, Leon broke their hearts with a cheeky finish at Spencer’s near post from a Julia Grosso cross to put Canada 2-0 up.

Despite being down, the Jamaicans continued the push to at least reduce the deficit, but when Plummer fired a tame left-footed effort straight at Canada’s goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, deep inside added time, it all but summed up their lukewarm evening.

Teams: Jamaica -Rebecca Spencer, Allyson Swaby, Konya Plummer, Tiernny Wiltshire, Deneisha Blackwood, Vyan Sampson, Drew Spence, Jody Brown (Solai Washington 55th), Atlanta Primus (Kayla McKenna 71st), Cheyna Matthews (Tiffany Cameron 55th), Khadija Shaw

Subs not used: Sydney Schneider, Liya Brooks, Sashana Campbell, Chantelle Swaby, Kameron Simmonds, Olufolasade Adamolekun, Trudi Carter, Shaneil Buckley, Paige Bailey-Gayle

Booked: None

Canada -Kailen Sheridan, Sydney Collins, Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn, Ashley Lawrence (Gabby Carle 82nd), Vanessa Gilles, Nichelle Prince (Jordyn Huitema 64th), Jessie Fleming (Julia Grosso 79th), Adriana Leon, Cloe Lacasse, Jade Rose (Shelina Zadorsky 79th)

Subs not used: Lysianne Proulx, Sabrina D'Angelo, Olivia Smith, Marie-Yasmine Alidou, Evelyne Viens, Christine Sinclair, Simi Awujo, Bianca St-Georges 

Booked: Gillies (54th), Grosso (90+5)

Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA)

Assistant referees: Kathryn Nesbitt (USA); Felisha Mariscal (USA)

Fourth official: Natalie Simon (USA)

Match Commissary: Techell McLean (SKN)

After switching allegiance from Canada to Jamaica, Tiffany Cameron will play against her birth country in one of the most important fixtures of her career.

Cameron, who earns her Jamaican stripes through her parents Yvonne Brown and Donovan Cameron, represented Canada at the Under-17 level and then played six friendly contests with the senior team, before making a switch from the Canucks to the Reggae Girlz in 2019.

While it is not her first time playing against Canada since her switch, the significance of this two-leg Olympic qualifying playoff, is such that Cameron’s sentimental attachment to her birth country and former team, is almost non-existent.

In fact, Cameron is buzzing with excitement ahead of the opening fixture scheduled for later this evening inside the National Stadium at 7:00pm, and moreso about her return to the BMO Field in Toronto where the second-leg will be contested before a sold-out crowd on September 26.

“The last senior international cap I had with Canada was on June 2, 2013, against United States at BMO. We lost that game 0-3 and I haven’t played on the BMO Field since. So, it will be extra special for me to go back there now representing Jamaica,” Cameron told Sportsmax.tv.

“Situations like these don’t happen often, so I’m excited. I’m ready to give my best and I think it will be a competitive match,” she added.

The two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup representative, who has enjoyed a decorated career spanning 14 years to date, recently inked a deal with Liga F outfit, Real Betis, where she hopes to again put her versatility on display, much like she did with the Reggae Girlz at the global showpiece in Australia.

Simply put, Cameron, though at age 31, is still very much in her prime and has a real hard desire to work hard and improve her craft, especially now in a country where she enjoys their brand of football.

“I think it (Real Betis) is a great fit for me because I enjoy combinational play and playing with players that express themselves and make football an enjoyable sport to watch. Playing in Spain will improve my decision making overall, as the speed of play in Spain is ranked one of the highest in the world.  I have settled in well so far and I am very much looking forward to my time with the club,” she shared.

But, for now, Cameron is solely focused on assisting her Reggae Girlz team in their bid to once again rewrite the history books by being the first Caribbean team to qualify for women’s football at the Olympic Games.

The Reggae Girlz, are coming off a confident run at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they finished second in Group F, holding top 10-ranked teams France and Brazil to goalless stalemates, complemented by a 1-0 victory over Panama, before losing 0-1 to Colombia in the Round of 16.

It was the first time since 1938 that a Caribbean team –male or female –contested the knockout stages at the global showpiece and the Girlz have a chance to build on that momentum.

“We are all proud of what we were able to accomplish at the World Cup and I think those accomplishments have given us a boost in confidence going into these games against Canada. We want to continue to make Jamaica proud and will give our best,” Cameron declared.

“We know what’s at stake in these games, so we will go into these games with a similar mentality as the World Cup. The opportunity to continue to make history is a blessing within itself and we won’t be taking that for granted,” she noted.

A win and a draw against 10th-ranked Canadians would be good enough to not only book the 37th-ranked Jamaicans one of 12 spots at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, but also a spot in the group stages of the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, alongside United States.

Both Jamaica and Canada are in this position after placing second and third at last year’s Concacaf Women’s Championships in Mexico. United States, by virtue of topping the tournament, earned automatic qualification to both the Olympic Games and the Gold Cup.

Like many of her teammates, Cameron knows all too well that another history-making feat would add further impetus to not only their status, but to women’s football in the Caribbean on a whole.

“It would mean a lot to us to be able to make history and be the first Caribbean team to qualify for women's football at the Olympics. The more successful we are, the more hope we will give to the younger generation in the Caribbean,” Cameron ended.

In their past nine meetings with Canada, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz have lost every match by a combined score of 60-1.

But Head coach Lorne Donaldson doesn’t need a statistics lesson to know that his ever-improving Reggae Girlz team faces a stern examination of their history-making credentials, as they seek to end a winless run against the formidable reigning Olympic champions in an important assignment.

Donaldson’s side ranked at 37th and the number 10-ranked Canadians lock horns in the first of their two-leg Olympic qualifying playoff at the National Stadium on Friday at 7:00pm Jamaica time, with both aiming to draw first blood and, by extension, put themselves in pole position to secure a berth to next year's Olympic Games in France.

The second leg is scheduled for September 26 at a sold-out BMO Field in Toronto.

While acknowledging the daunting nature of their task against the three-time Olympic medallists, Donaldson is hoping the Reggae Girlz can turn in an efficient performance in their bid to defy the odds and their doubters on local soil.

“Canada is the Olympic champion, they have won a lot of stuff, we haven’t proven anything yet so they have a right to be favourite. So we have to be good, we have to play really well to beat the Olympic champions,” Donaldson told Sportsmax.tv.

“We’re ready for a tough battle and it will take its own course, I’m sure. it’s a pretty important game to both teams so we just want to come out and play hard…as hard as we can and see what we can get out of it. That’s our aim, to come out and play as hard and be very effective in what we are trying to do,” he added.

The Reggae Girlz, who are coming off a confident run at the Fifa Women’s World Cup, where they finished second in Group F, holding top 10-ranked teams France and Brazil to goalless stalemates, complemented by a 1-0 victory over Panama, before losing 0-1 to Colombia in the Round of 16.

It was the first time since 1938 that a Caribbean team –male or female –contested the knockout stages at the global showpiece and the Girlz have a chance to not only build on that momentum, but also become the first Caribbean team to qualify for women’s football at the Olympics.

This, as Canada in seven matches so far this year, have registered two wins, one draw and four losses, scoring just five goals, while conceding a whopping 12.

But, even with that in mind, Donaldson maintains that his team will have to be at their best to achieve the intended results.

“We had a journey of all sorts, including the World Cup and those highs and lows prepares us for games like this. So it’s a challenge that we’re looking forward to and we have to try and score goals, it is as simple as that.

“We have to minimize what we give up because it’s a two-leg fixture, so we have to get a result from this leg and then go from there. So yeah, we’re going to have to be in top form to get a result,” Donaldson reasoned.

Though he has 20 players from his World Cup squad, led by 2022 Concacaf Women's Player of the Year and a finalist for this year's Ballon d'Or, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw in camp, Donaldson pointed out the decision on a starting team remains up in the air, as a few players are nursing niggles.

However, he expressed pleasure with what was displayed during three full sessions, all focused on their tactical approach.

“The first session was lively; the second one was a bit sub-par, but the players regained some tempo for the last session because they know the objective and I am sure they are shooting for it.

“Everything has been focused on tactics and what we want to do, which is to go in and get a result. So, we are just taking it in stride honour anything we need to honour, and try to finish up on a good note,” the tactician said.

Meanwhile, Canada’s head coach Bev Priestman will have 19 of the 23 players, who were part of her World Cup roster, including captain Christine Sinclair and a trio of Chelsea players — workhorse midfielder Jessie Fleming and defenders Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence.

Notable absences from that group are now-retired veteran midfielder Sophie Schmidt, as well as fullback Allysha Chapman, who is out for personal reasons. Fullback Jayde Riviere and forward Deanne Rose were originally named to the roster but will miss the qualifiers due to injuries.

Still, Priestman said her team is ready and raring to go.

“We all are itching to get back on the pitch and we want nothing more than to start our journey to the Olympic Games through these playoffs,” Priestman noted.

“We know it will be a tough challenge in front of us and it won’t be easy, but we are ready to rise to that challenge, the group feels fresh and excited, and we’re ready to go,” she added.

 

Former champions Kingston College and Calabar continued their upward trend in Group A of the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup, as both registered 2-0 and 3-0 victories over Camperdown and Charlie Smith respectively at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Wednesday.

Both Kingston College and Calabar, who lost their opening contests, have rebounded nicely with these being their second win on the trot in a competitive group that is expected to go down to the wire for the top two positions.

In the opening contest, Alex Hislop (fourth) and Kelvin Brown (65th) got the job done for Kingston College over Camperdown, while Javel Watson (20th), Fitzroy McLeod (79th) and Kimani Thompson (90+2), were on target for Calabar in the feature encounter.

With the win, both Calabar and Kingston College moved to six points, along with leader Hydel, who hammered Penwood 10-0 in their fixture. Charlie Smith remains in fourth on three points, with Camperdown and Penwood yet to put a point on the board.

After Hislop fired Kingston College in front, the tempo of the young North Street-based team dropped significantly but picked up when the game resumed from a short break due to severe weather conditions.

Kingston College should have added a second from the penalty spot, but Dejuan Green tried to be too fancy and hit the 12-yard kick wide, as the score remained 1-0 at the break.

The purples continued their dominant show on the resumption and though Camperdown tried to play their game, the failed to really trouble Dominic Robinson in goal for Kingston College.

Vassell Reynolds’s side eventually added to their tally when Brown waltzed his way around three defenders before finishing a right-footer with aplomb to seal the win.

Though not impressed, Reynolds welcomed the improved second half display and, by extension, the win.

“I think we rose to the occasion; it is still a work in progress, but the youngsters are learning very quickly. I am pretty satisfied with how they recovered from the first half. I thought the break helped us really, we were giving away possession of the ball and we lacked the composure in the first half, but they came out and equipped themselves in the second half,” Reynolds said in his post-game assessment.

His counterpart Lebert Halliman cited indiscipline for his team’s defeat, their second of the season. They also have against Hydel in which they are down 0-5 to be completed.

“Indiscipline is why I took off my captain because he wasn’t playing his role. But overall, I think the team did well, it’s a young team and a long season, so it’s a learning process for them,” Halliman said.

The feature contest was much more eventful, as both Charlie Smith and Calabar were evenly matched for the most parts.

Both displayed individual flair and some colorful plays in patches, but it was Calabar that proved the most clinical in the end.

The Andrew Price-conditioned Calabar opened the scoring in the 20th minute when an unmarked Watson, easily headed home at close range from a Jaheim Rankine cross.

They almost doubled the lead 12 minutes later, as Sheridan Wilson’s stinging right-footed shot from a distance had Deonte Gary, in goal for Charlie Smith beaten, but the effort came back off the crossbar.

With no changes to the scoreline at the break, Charlie Smith showed more purpose on the resumption in their hunt for the equalizer. However, they not only found themselves with a numerical disadvantage when they lost Gary to straight red in the 61st minute for stomping on an opponent, but they also found themselves with a two-goal deficit to make up.

This, as Anthony McDonald’s weighted free kick found McLeod, who made no mistakes.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Thompson rubbed salt on an already wounded Charlie Smith with an easy close range finish in time added.

Wednesday’s results

Zone A

Kingston College 2, Camperdown 0

Charlie Smith 0, Calabar 3

Penwood 0, Hydel High 10

Zone B

Meadowbrook 3, Cumberland 2

Jamaica College 3, Spanish Town 0

Zone D

Excelsior 7, Cedar Grove 1

Bridgeport 2, Clan Carthy 1

Zone E

St Catherine 7, Edith Dalton James 0

Innswood 2, Holy Trinity 0

Mona 9, St Mary’s College 1

 

Christopher Samuda knows sport is so much more than a game. He knows it inspires collaboration and teamwork, increases confidence, reduces stress and improves mental health.

It is with that in mind, that the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president considers the $25 million allotted to the Reggae Girlz as a small token to positively impact their journey to compete, as they again seek to rewrite the history books.

The Girlz, who will lock horns with Canada in a two-leg Olympic Qualifying playoff at the National Stadium on Friday, and again in Toronto, next Tuesday, are hoping to become the first Caribbean country to qualify for women's football at the Olympic Games.

And if the Girlz required any further inspiration to secure positive results against the reigning Olympic champions, they would have taken it from the JOA’s support, which is in collaboration with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the Bob Marley Foundation, as $15 million goes directly to the programme, with the remaining $10 million to be paid out as player incentives.

Those incentives include bonuses for goals scored, assists made, clean sheets, and team prizes for Olympic qualification.

According to Samuda, the funding and, in particular, the incentive is to alleviate whatever pressure the Girlz may feel approaching this, another significant hurdle, along their path to success.

“The JOA’s investment of $25 million is not by coincidence, we understand that the infrastructures for the talent of sport, the aspirations of our athletes and our footballers, must be funded if we are to achieve the results that we so desire. The Reggae Girlz are ready to write and dramatize another chapter in the history of football in qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris.

“They're ready to raise the curtain and to give a command performance. They're ready for the road, for destiny shall arrive on the 22nd at the National Stadium,” Samuda told Sportsmax.tv.

As it has been from the onset, Samuda again reminded Jamaicans that the Girlz accomplishments at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in July, is a source of national pride.

For as much as the Girlz gave when they held top-ranked France and Brazil to goalless stalemates, followed by a 1-0 win over Panama on their way to being the first Caribbean team –male of female –to contest the knockouts since Cuba in 1938, Samuda believes a little love from Jamaican supporters would be a mere drop in the bucket to repay the players’ efforts.

“What the Reggae Girlz need from Jamaica is solidarity and love, sweet love, and they want it in the National Stadium. Our Job is to be with the Reggae Girlz on the 22nd. The business of sport is that job in respect of which we are given a line of credit to make meaningful and profitable lives being lived in sport and to earn dividends for sport and a nation,” Samuda said.

“But in all cases of credit, there is payback time. The Reggae Girlz have gifted us very creditable performances, they have given us credit and now it is payback time. So, on the 22nd bring your wallet, bring your purse, bring your safety deposit box and support the Girlz. There must be a pilgrimage to the National Stadium on the 22nd,” he added.

On that note, Samuda declared his association’s long-term commitment of our resources, focus and energy to help break down barriers that not only limit access to sport, but also hinder the growth of sport locally.

“The JOA continues to be driven to use sport in giving our sportsmen and women a sense of purpose and being. Sport for all, all for sport, continues to motivate us in affording all sport opportunities for growth and development. For we, the JOA, we have a business contract with our member associations and federations to fuel current hopes to ignite tomorrow's ambition to inflame every aspirational talent in any and every sport to be and to become an Olympian, not only in performance, but more importantly in character,” Samuda asserted.

“As a local apex governing body for Olympic sports, we also have a business contract with the people of Jamaica to build a nation in sport and among all of us, the Reggae Girlz, fans, stakeholders, there is a social contract to make legendary the contribution of the sport of football to the fabric, to the soul and to the spirit of Jamaica,” he ended.

After being re-elected president of Jamaica Squash Association, Karen Anderson is intent on building on the platform laid from her previous term to ensure the continued growth and development of the sport locally.

Anderson, who took the reins of the sporting body last year, was returned for second one-year term which she said represents an opportunity to achieve certain personal ambitions and, by extension, bring visions for the sports progression, to fruition.

To that end, she hopes to finish the governance process of a name change, among other things by mid-2024, as well as to possibly hire a Technical director to assist in the country’s competitiveness at various tournaments.

“As you know, a few years ago all sporting bodies were encouraged to become charitable entities, which is an arduous process and it's also quite expensive, so we had put off for quite a while. But part of my mandate and my manifesto was to do that aspect of it, to become a charitable entity,” Anderson told Sportsmax.tv.

“So, the first resolution spoke to the association becoming a charitable entity; the second one spoke to a name change from Jamaica Squash Association to Jamaica Squash Limited trading as Jamaica Squash and then the third one was to the approval of current constitution of Jamaica's Association subsumed by Articles of Incorporation, which is what governs charitable bodies. So, all of the resolutions were passed and passed unanimously,” she added.

While Anderson reveled in the success of the country’s junior and senior teams at their respective Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) tournament recently, she noted areas in which the country can improve to become more formidable on the regional stage and the appointment of a technical director, she believes is a key component.

“Based on some of the things we saw last year, we added a strength and conditioning coach as a fitness element. All of the juniors and seniors worked with this strength and conditioning coach to get them up to standard and we saw a marked improvement in that and that's something that we're actually going to continue to do,” Anderson shared.

“We have also seen the success of other Caribbean countries that have technical directors and that’s a significant way to increase our competitiveness within the region. We haven't identified the person yet because we need to identify the money first, but we believe that we can turn some of our silver and bronze medals into gold and maybe start to contend and be part of the top two in the region.

“As I've said to the players, if we can't compete and be competitive in this region which is the Caribbean region, then there's no point even trying to take it outside of the Caribbean. Because you need to be able to do it at home first and home for me is the Caribbean. So, that's really where we're looking. It's expensive, but we believe that is direction that we have to go in,” she reasoned.

That said, Anderson, a former National and Caribbean singles champion, pointed out that starting a school programme is also high on her agenda to not only widen the sport’s reach but also the pool from which players are selected for national duties.

“Currently, if you can hit the ball you almost can he selected. We want the kids to fight for a spot so that they become more competitive and learn how to win. So those are the areas that we're going to focus on to improve on some of those results. I would also love to be able to host a Professional Squash tournament attracting the world’s best players to play in Jamaica,” she declared.

Anderson’s executive committee includes Joey Levy, vice president, Gill Binnie, secretary and Deanne Pryce, treasurer. Committee

members are Douglas Beckford, Nathlee Boreland, and Tahjia Lumley.

Former champions Glenmuir High maintained a positive start to the ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup season, as they outclassed last year’s beaten finalist Central High in a come-from-behind 5-1 win in what turned out to be a lopsided encounter at the former’s base on Saturday.

Nyron Allen (15th), Kyle Gordon (31st), Deandre Johnson (48th), Tajaun Cummings (52nd) and substitute Derrick Henry (69th), were on target for the Andrew Peart-coached Glenmuir side, after James Gallimore gave Central High an 11th-minute lead.

Peart welcomed the win, which was his team second on the trot, putting them in firm control of Zone L on six points.

“The result is very important at this group stage, especially also due to the fact that both teams had some level of success last season so there were a lot of talk around the town about who would win, and we came out on top,” he said in a post-match interview.

“We are just training hard and always seeking to improve, last year we laid down some foundations and we have built on them so far. So there is no pressure, I am just looking at what is in front of me, the players that are in front of me and the direction we want to take the school in,” Peart added.

With Glenmuir being gradually slow to settle, Central capitalised and grabbed the early ascendancy when James dyer sidewined his way between two defenders before playing a pass off to Gallimore, who made no mistakes from close range.

However, their lead was short-lived, as captain Gordon dispossessed a defender and found an unmarked Allen, who fired a firm right-footed effort past Davone Robinson in goal for Central.

Glenmuir suffered a setback as they lost last season’s standout player after he picked up what appeared to be a broken arm in the 25th minute. Watson tallied 17 goals and nine assist last season.

Still, Glenmuir pressed on and found the lead just past the half-hour mark when Gordon converted from the penalty spot, after Johnson was felled inside the danger area by Robinson, to put Glenmuir 2-1 up at the break.

They wasted little time to pick up where they left off on the resumption and extended the lead three minutes in when a defensive mix up, allowed Johnson to arrive on the ball and head past Robinson for his second goal of the season.

And Cummings put further daylight between Glenmuir and Central with a cool, calm and collected finish over a well-advanced Robinson, who was left in no man’s land.

Though Central tried to play their game and had a few openings from which they could have narrowed the gap, Justin Murray, in goal for Glenmuir was not for beating.

While Central’s hunt was fruitless, Glenmuir helped themselves to a fifth, as Allan slipped two defenders, before passing to Henry, who slotted home from deep inside the 18-yard box.

A disappointed Jermaine Douglas of Central High felt his team lost their composure after finding the lead.

“I thought we were playing well in the first 15 to 20 minutes, but my concern was always scoring first and then becoming complacent, it's something we try to guard against but that is exactly what happened. I don’t think we should have lost by this margin we got some chances that we didn’t put away, but such is football,” he said.

The result leaves Central pointless, while the other group contest between Porus and Old Harbour was called off due to bad weather with the latter leading 5-0.

 

Saturday’s results

Zone A

Cornwall College 0, Irwin High 0

Maldon 4, Green Pond 0

Spot Valley 2, St James 1

Zone D

Mannings 1, Petersfield 0

Zone I

Tacky High 3, Horace Clarke 3

Wycliff Martin 1, St Mary Technical 1

Zone J

Dinthill 6, Ewarton 0

McGrath 1. Enid Bennett 0

Zone K

Yallahs 6, Robert Lightbourne 0

Morant Bay High 1, Paul Bogle 0

Zone L

Glenmuir High 5, Central High 1

Porus 0, Old Harbour 5 (Game called off due to lightning)

Zone M

Kemps Hill 0, Vere Technical 2

Garvey Maceo 8, Tacius Golding 0

Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd failed to make an impression in the women’s shot put, as American Chase Ealy continued her superb vein of form to claim the Diamond League title in Meet Record style at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Saturday.

While Thomas-Dodd struggled from the start and eventually placed sixth with a best throw of 19.17m, which came on her penultimate attempt, Ealy, the World Champion had no such issues.

The American on her third attempt, launched the instrument to a National Record, Meet Record and World Leading mark of 20.76m.

That throw bettered the previous World lead of 20.45m set by her compatriot Maggie Ewen in May, as well as the previous Meet record of 20.15m, set by New Zealand’s Valerie Adams in 2013. The previous American record was 20.63m set by Michelle carter in 2016.

Meanwhile, Canada’s World Championship bronze medallist Sarah Mitton was second with a best throw of 19.94, while Auriol Dongmo (19.92m) of Portugal was third.

Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson produced her usual strong finish to be crowned Diamond League champion in the women’s 100m, while compatriot Elaine Thompson-Herah continues to upgrade with a season’s best time for third at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Saturday.

Like the men’s event, the women’s dash was just as explosive, with Jackson, the World Championships silver medallists, registering her first 100m victory over American World Champion Sha’Carri Richardson to end that chapter of her season on a high.

Jackson, who is also favoured for the 200m crown, clocked 10.70s with a storming finish from lane six, as she swept by the fast-starting Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who clocked a season’s best equaling 10.75s.

Double Olympic champion Thompson-Herah once again demonstrated that she is gradually overcoming her struggles with injuries with a season’s best 10,79s.

Richardson was fifth in 10.80s, while another Jamaican Natasha Morrison clocked a big personal best 10.85s in sixth.

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